East Front II is everything the original East Front should have been. That's good news if you're new to the East Front series, as East Front had a great premise and a good system but was, unfortunately, marred by some serious problems. On the other hand, if you're a veteran of East Front, its sequel will be quite disappointing. East Front II, in fact, is not so much a sequel as an enhancement. It's a revamped East Front with a lot of the problems fixed, plus the first campaign CD add-on and 50 additional scenarios.
The already impressive graphics from East Front make a return in this follow up but are enhanced with more detailing and contoured edges for terrain features. You'll also get armored vehicles with various camouflage paint schemes. Nice as the graphics are, though, at heart East Front II is sporting the same basic graphics as its predecessor. That's not a bad thing by any means, as East Front's graphics were lush and detailed. But, because East Front II's release comes two years after the original, more improvements in graphics would have been nice.
After releasing East Front, Talonsoft learned a set of lessons and incorporated them into their next game design, West Front. East Front II follows West Front and shares the fruits of many of those lessons. But, it's still quite distinctly a sequel to East Front in the sense there are some issues resolved.
The basic combat unit in the game is the platoon; that usually works out fine in the more limited engagements of the Western Front. The Eastern Front, however, was the scene of the largest tank battles in the history of human warfare and these tanks were accompanied by infantry among others. You can have engagements with division or even corps size groups going at each other and the sheer number of units on the field at that scale can be overwhelming. Moving your entire army every turn, platoon by platoon, can quickly become a marathon test of patience. Fortunately, you are given the option to move groups of units at one time but at the cost of losing individual control over unit placement. Even then, the large-scale engagements that are depicted can take many hours to complete.
The supply rules are another problematic quirk about the game. Each turn correlates to six minutes of real time so most scenarios last somewhere between one and two hours. In a two-hour engagement, there simply is no question of supply. Soldiers should be carrying enough ammunition to last them that long and pass ammo back and forth if necessary. Supply rules might begin to come into play on scenarios that last two days but not two hours.
Overall, East Front II is quite an improvement over East Front. The AI is much more skilled this time around, requiring strategy instead of mindless horde rushing. If you've already played East Front, this quasi-sequel may not be worth the price. On the other hand, if you're a wargamer with an interest in World War II and haven't tried out East Front, East Front II is the perfect place to do it.
Graphics: Lush and detailed graphics throughout the game; unfortunately, they show little improvement over the original.
Sound: Decent sound effects for battles.
Enjoyment: The game presents great wargaming that manages to portray plenty of realism for the hardcore fan.
Replay Value: East Front II is really meaty with many units and scenarios.
People who downloaded East Front 2 have also downloaded:
West Front, Rising Sun, Divided Ground: Middle East Conflict 1948-1973, Civil War Generals 2, Gary Grigsby's World At War, Battleground 2: Gettysburg, Battleground 6: Napoleon in Russia, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000)
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